Question: Jane Austen’s Attitude to Love and Marriage in Pride and Prejudice.
The novel “Pride and Prejudice” (1797) is a comedy of manners created by the Pre-Victorian novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) by which she has criticized the theme of love and marriage of the Pre-Victorian arena. The main subject of the novel that is love and marriage based on mutual understanding is illustrated here.
Love and marriage based on economy
Jane Austen has emphasized the theme of love and marriage in her famous novel “Pride and Prejudice”. Austen’s art of characterization is unique. The important two characters Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas are the couples who are married from a financial perspective. Mr. Collins first proposes Jane to marry but when he is informed that Jane is already engaged to Mr. Bingley, he shifts his attraction to Elizabeth but this time he is denied by Elizabeth. Further, he has proposed to Charlotte Lucas for marriage. Charlotte accepts this proposal eagerly because she finds a financially secured home. In this point of view, we may say that the marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte is absolutely based on economy and it is proved by the following speech of Charlotte Lucas:
“I am not romantic you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home”.
Love and marriage based on physical attraction
The marriage between Wickham and Lydia is an important document of love and marriage based on physical attraction. Wickham is a charming gentleman outwardly. So, Lydia has been fascinated by his physical charm. She is so infatuated towards Wickham that she does not hesitate even to lose her chastity. At some point of the novel, they elope and marry. After their marriage, we notice that they are not happy at all. So, we should not expect such kind of marriage.
Pride is harmful to love and marriage
In the novel, we found Fitzwilliam Darcy is a high-class egoistic person. At the very outset of the novel Darcy’s words about Elizabeth, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; are packed up with pride. It is one of the insulting remarks to Elizabeth. In the development of the plot of the story, we see that because of Darcy’s pride a lot of misconceptions are produced since Elizabeth says;
“He was the proudest and most disagreeable man in the world, everybody hoped that he would never come there again”.
Here the narrator has talked about Darcy’s pride. The opinion of the narrator about Darcy is that he is the proudest and disagreeable man.
Passion and Compassion
In regards to love and marriage, the lovers should be passionate and compassionate to each other. The two couples, Jane and Mr. Bingley and Darcy and Elizabeth, are passionate lovers and they are also compassionate. At first, Darcy and Elizabeth were not passionate about each other but over time, they start to feel passion and compassion for each other. It is a kind of universality that all passionate love starts with misunderstanding.
Love and marriage based on mutual understanding
As a female novelist, Jane Austen first posed questions against the marital system of contemporary England. Her novel “Pride and prejudice” is a manifesto of her silent revolt against the marital system in England that was existed in the 19th century. Then, in her epoch-making novel, Austen proposed that marriage should be based on love and mutual understanding. It is an ideal marriage that is long-lasting. The marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Mr. Bingley is based on love and mutual understanding. They are united through a long complexity.
“Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change”
Now, it can be concluded that every literary work has delighted the readers and given a lesson. In the novel “Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen has suggested to the young people to start their conjugal life which must be based on love and mutual understanding.